Seoul at a Glance
Living in SeouliStockphoto
Although Seoul is a very modern city, ancient Korean traditions still prevail.
The locals in Seoul like to refer to their city as “the miracle of Han”. This expression is not completely unjustified. After all, not only did Seoul survive the Korean War without major damages, the historical city has also developed into a booming 21st-century metropolis.
The government is making a great effort to make Seoul, the 600-year-old capital, an attractive place to live for all. Not only did they add a little green to daily life in Seoul with parks and recreational areas, they have also planned new buildings and residential districts within the city. New projects are, for instance, the Dongdaemun Design Plaza and Park and the eco-friendly new city hall.
Housing in Seoul
When preparing for your time in Seoul, looking for accommodation will become inevitable at some point. You should know that housing space is often measured in pyeong (1 pyeong = 3.3m²). Please note that the total area listed often includes common areas including the hallway in front of the apartment, the elevator, the parking garage, etc. These common areas are added up and divided by the number of apartments in the building, meaning that your actual living space may be smaller than what is advertised. Depending on your individual income, preference and living situation, there are many different options to put a roof over your head in Seoul:
- Serviced apartments are furnished and come with hotel-like services and facilities. In addition, they are often located within close proximity to public transportation and tourist attractions. They are a convenient option for expatriates who come to Seoul on short-term assignments. Keep in mind, however, that serviced apartments are more expensive than regular apartments.
- Regular apartments are the most popular housing option among Koreans living in Seoul. They are often located near postal or district offices, schools and stores. Of course, rents vary depending on the apartment’s location and size. The units in apartment complexes are often smaller than what Westerners might be accustomed to.
- Another option is to rent space in an officetel. An officetel is a high-rise building which offers both office and residential units for residents of Seoul. Officetels are particularly popular with students and singles in Seoul, as they offer contracts of 1-2 years and come fully furnished.
- Private houses are particularly attractive for family life in Seoul. They are easier to find in the older neighborhoods north of the river. Most foreigners in Seoul rent private houses in Itaewon, Ichon-dong and Pyeongchang-dong.
- Multi-family houses and terraced houses often offer less space than apartments and are home to at least two families. However, they are also cheaper than most apartments of equal size.
- One-room and studio apartments are most popular among students and young foreign employees living in Seoul. On average, these apartments are about 27m² and come with basic furnishing. They are cheaper than officetels.
- If you want to experience the traditional side of life in Seoul, a hanok may be more up your alley. These can be seen in the old part of Seoul, north of Hangang. However, not only Bukchon Hanok Village offers traditional homes to people living in Seoul. Remodeled hanoks appear all over the city. Modern amenities have, however, been added to their historical exterior, to be on par with the high quality of life in Seoul.
International Districts in Seoul
There are several districts in Korea’s capital which are exceptionally popular among expatriates in Seoul. Some of them offer nice and quiet areas which are ideal for families, while others are within easy reach of public transportation and important business facilities.
The most popular international neighborhoods and districts are:
- Itaewon (Yongsan-gu)
- Hannam-dong (Yongsan-gu)
- Ichon-dong (Yongsan-gu)
- The Greater Gangnam Area (Gangnam-gu, Seocho-gu and Songpa-gu)
All of these districts have something different to offer: parks and green spaces, clubs and restaurants. Please refer to our article on Moving to Seoul to learn more about the various international districts.